A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
Europe is awash with tourists. You can’t go three metres in any major city on the entire continent without tripping over some foreigner trying to take a picture. In fact, Europe is actually in serious danger of becoming a gigantic theme park on the nose of Asia. And since tourists are unavoidable west of the Ural Mountains, here are 7 (plus 1) types of tourist you should definitely avoid. (Trust me; this is only a partial list!)
The Tour Guide – No, not those “umbrella in the air” Pied Pipers who march through the streets with a phalanx of old people in their wake. No, not those people. These are the folks who, armed with Wikipedia, have taken it upon themselves to explain to the entire restaurant (at concert pitch — and usually in English) the significance of whatever their group saw that day. Everything from when Dante met Beatrice to Botticelli’s favourite dessert!
The Photographers – These are the people in the art galleries who are all assholes and elbows, kicking you out of the way to get the perfect photo of …. Hey, buddy! You’re taking a picture of a picture that’s been professionally photographed a million times and studied in minute detail for 3, 4, or, sometimes even 500 years. To do what with it? Take it home and show it to your brother-in-law? “Wow! What an unusual smile! Who is it?”
The Selfie Sticker – Somebody is going to put somebody’s eye out with one of those damn things.
The Telephoner – These are the folks who decide to talk, text or check Instagram in the middle of a crowded street, at the top of the stairs, at the bottom of the stairs and at the entrance to every store, restaurant, museum and art gallery they run across. The only thing worse is those doofuses who stumble around town, staring at their Google maps instead of actually looking where they’re going.
The Baggage Handler – These are the people who’ve loaded every conceivable item they might possibly need in the next 7 days into a backpack and stomp through the streets as if they’re trekking the Andes. They swing those things like lethal weapons and insist on rearranging their crap at every opportunity – usually, in the middle of a crowded street, at the top of the stairs, at the bottom of the stairs and at the entrance to every store, restaurant, museum and art gallery they run across.
The Bros – These are the boys (friends or co-workers, in their mid-30s) who came to Europe together and have somehow managed to escape from their women for the afternoon. Alone in a strange land, they huddle together in a defensive group to sample European culture by the bottle.
The Girlfriends – These are the wives of The Bros. They don’t actually like each other very much, but (because of The Bros) they’ve spent so much time together their menstrual cycles are in sync. They travel in a pack, and they’ve come to shop, and they’ve come to talk, and everybody else can piss off.
The Parents – These are the young couples who’ve bundled up baby for a “vacation” in Europe. They are pushing a stroller the size of a Smart Car and hauling around enough baby stuff to outfit a Malawian orphanage for a decade. Mom looks like she hasn’t slept since the night the child was conceived, Dad looks like he’s been hit in the face with Novocaine and the poor kid is jetlagged out of his mind. Folks, this is not fun – for anyone. What the hell were you thinking? Even if a child that young could remember anything — which they can’t — from their vantage point, all they’re seeing is the tourist bums directly ahead of them. Besides, I’ve seen those strollers rattling over the cobblestones and I don’t think it’s legal to shake a baby like that.
FYI – for those of you keeping track, they’ve found our luggage. It’s in Zurich!